Case Study:

User Research, Salience Analysis, & User Experience Strategy for US-based Disaster Preparedness App

When we see natural disasters on the news, our hearts are moved - we donate money, supplies, and send thoughts and prayers to those affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. 

But when it comes to preparing ourselves and our families for the day natural disaster strikes our communities… well, it turns out we’re pretty bad at that. 

Studies show that most folks think “that’ll never happen to me” and they put off disaster preparation for another day. 

So how can we get people to take the possibility of natural disasters seriously and prepare a go-bag for their family’s care?

That’s the challenge my client, a disaster-preparedness startup, reached out to me to solve.

My client wanted to use behavioral science-powered user experience strategies to make sure that their product was not only easy and (ethically) addictive to use, but that it helped manage the emotional side of disaster preparedness too. 

Process & Deliverables
After a literature review of the latest behavioral science principles that’d proven the most effective in disaster preparedness behavior change and a salience analysis of their proof of concept mobile experience, I got to work observing user interviews.

In the course of my work discovered that while this was a disaster preparedness challenge on the surface, our users’ REAL barrier to adoption wasn’t putting together a go-bag - it was a lack of urgency and emotion in the process.

Users felt like they'd never actually be a victim of a natural disaster (even if, as some users had, they'd lived through a disaster that destroyed their home or community), and that getting prepared was a whole lot of annoyance for nothing. 
We had to find a way to get users performing an arduous task with little perceived payoff, using only an app. 

After delivering a customer behavior playbook that audited the current prototype experience and recommended principles (as well as many specific, actionable tactics) to inform further development, my client went from feeling like they didn't have a plan to get users performing the seemingly huge task of "getting prepared" to having a plan to implement smaller, more emotional wins into their customer experience.

I presented a plan to tie actions like gathering updated ID documents to existing dates in the calendar (like doing annual tax filing for the IRS) and create feedback and reward loops to encourage continued behavior change. 

Does this sound like a challenge you're facing right now?
If you want to design a customer experience that makes hard things easier and develops user habits, get in touch here or book out a mini-consulting session.

More Projects